SINGAPORE — WHAT THE FUTURE holds wasn’t clear for this lass when she first came here for a job in 2009. But after battling against homesick, and the demand of a job at a restaurant, she won victoriously. JANINA ESPINOZA now serves as a manager for two branches of a Food and Beverage company in this city, and just recently, she bagged the title of Dream Top Model 2016 as the new Queen.
We met Janina during the competition, held at Shanghai Dolly Theatre at Clark Quay on February 28, as this blogger served as one of the judges during the finale. One of the hardest tasks we’ve embarked on so far.
Setting our eyes on Janina for the first time while she graced the stage during the opening number, we knew instantly that she’s one of the girls to beat. She has an edge over the others as she’s the tallest of them all, at 5 feet and 8 inches. It was an advantage and a disadvantage though — getting the judges’ attention is one thing, but proving to us that more than her height, she’s worthy of the crown based on performance, is another.
Obviously, the competition was cutting edge. Personally, I have around five or six ladies being watched on, all of whom have what it takes to win. The not so tallest girls are equally pretty and have superb performances. With what they showed the audience of around a thousand Overseas Filipino Workers, and locals, including dignitaries, the contestants were like gonna eat each other alive with their performances. They’re into winning it. Really.
The competition night’s performance spoken to us clearly that catwalk guru Eddy Rosdi, a Singapore-based choreographer and fashion designer who’s also behind the show, (along with Morpheus’ Dhave dela Cruz, Arthur Jhake Villanueva, and Maria Antonethe Fadallan) have done a great job training the girls the past five months for this grand showdown. And that made our job even harder.
But Janina, in her grand performance and even in her simplest, managed to stay on top of the competition from start to finish. She might have been overtaken by some girls during the other portions but my judgment would say, she was never out of our radar. And that’s all that mattered. In the end, she emerged victor without a question or doubt.
Asked on whether she expected the win during our post event dinner-interview, Janina humbly said she wasn’t expecting it as there were a lot of girls who are pretty, and are catwalk goddesses. Then I told myself, maybe it was that humble heart that made Janina shine the brightest. Such a character was actually oozing in her during the formal attire portion as she strut a simplistic look with her white gown during the final walk, from which portion we’ve decided who would be our winners.
We told her about her resemblance with actress-dancer Maja Salvador, and the lady widely smiled, nodded hesitantly, and said she’s been receiving such a compliment, and that she’s grateful for it.
Winners Never Quit
It was not her first competition. Janina has experienced how it is to lose in a modeling competition eight months earlier, but this win has just proven once more that those who succeed are never quitters.
A self-confessed dreamer of bigger things, Janina says she doesn’t stop until she’s reached her dreams, big or small. That include being in the annual Dream Top Model competition. The event, organized by Morpheus Hub and Entertainment Production, a company set up by OFWs Villanueva and dela Cruz aims to find the gems in the OFW community here. Janina included.
Winning the competition made the 25-year old Cavite-born lass become one of the talents being managed by Morpheus, and the start of a modeling career for her. A dream she’s been wanting to achieve since she was younger.
The lady is now ready to conquer all other odds to deliver her duties as the grand winner, which include charity works for the OFW-SG Community together with male winner, Anthony John Garcia. One of which is a charity event with the supervision of the Philippine Embassy on March 13 at Shelter for the OFW. Janina shared her excitement about this during our interview.
IN PHOTOS: Below are some shots of Janina during her first months in Singapore as an On-The-Job Trainee. Six years later, she would become a catwalk goddess, and eventually be the Dream Top Model 2016 Female Grand Winner.
But behind the glamour and the limelight this modeling search has given her, Janina is more excited to be of service to her OFW community. Her current title gives her a chance to speak on behalf of the OFWs here about issues concerning them, be able to campaign for the Philippines in this foreign land, and do modeling stints courtesy of Morpheus on the side.
There may be humps and bumps along the way but Janina is determined taking the road to success with so much positivity, wearing a winning spirit as her necklace.
Juggling her job as a manager and now as a model maybe hard but at least, it gives her a clearer view of what lies ahead for her. Janina is certain it won’t be easy but her experience in working in F&B industry, mixed with her learning from dressing up in fabulous outfits, and in high heels to show the world beauty even when it’s difficult are a perfect combination that would make her not just your usual restaurant manager but also a catwalk queen on duty.
*Photos courtesy of Mr. Kajjo Cuadera of Pinoy Strobist (The Official DTM Photographer), Janina, Morpheus, Viven Balsomo, Tommy Vercetti, and Ryan Cabrera.